I really enjoy cold weather. I love it when the warm afternoons turn into crisp mornings, and the first snowfall always makes my heart sing. But…there comes this point in every winter that I just can’t take it for another second. There is really no way to predict at what moment this will strike. Sometimes it’s early in the winter – the first cold, dark morning. Other times it’s after a string of cold days. Or sometimes, sometimes it happens on a bright, sunny, five-degree January afternoon. And that’s what happened this year. Once I hit this moment I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the rest of the winter. I’m just saying, if Spring and warm afternoons went ahead and arrived a few months ahead of schedule I would be perfectly content.
I should have known said-afternoon was coming when the morning began. I had one of those ‘nothing to wear with a closet full of clothes’ mornings, and finally settled on a bright, thin, flowery shirt. With a sweater, of course, because, five degrees.But, I didn’t fully realize it had arrived, until I sat in my office, with the sun streaming in – thinking about how wonderful it would be to go on a sunset run. I pulled up my weather app to see when sunset would be, and ‘five degrees’ smacked me in the face.
I hit the wall.
I was officially over winter.
So, what do you make for dinner when you only want Summer to arrive in January? Super creamy pesto pasta. The pesto and other vegetables giving you just the smallest taste of summertime, and the creamy sauce warming you up from five degrees.
The secret to making this sauce extra creamy is just a small bit of full fat coconut milk (that’s the kind from the can). If you haven’t yet noticed the trend around here – I am completely loving coconut milk. It gives foods a rich taste that I had desperately been missing since giving up dairy.
This pesto is a bit different than most you’ve probably had. Garlic is a predominant flavor, but you’ll also notice there is no basil. Confession : I’m not the biggest fan of basil. It certainly has it’s place – in tomato based sauces, but too much of it, isn’t my favorite. For a while now I’ve been making pesto with parsley, instead of basil. I love the flavor parsley gives, and it has some pretty neat health benefits, including helping to rid your body of excess fluid and inflammation (I’ll take all the help I can get there!). The other awesome thing about this pesto sauce, is that you get to use the entire stalk of parsley – including the stem! It all gets pulverized, so just throw the whole thing in there! The bright green color of this pesto warms my ‘over winter’ soul.
For this pasta I added broccoli and cherry tomatoes to add more of a boost of nutrients, but these are certainly optional, or you can trade them for other vegetables. If tomatoes aren’t in season (which, they really weren’t for me, but I was fighting Winter Blues, so I splurged), canned diced tomatoes would also work, but I would drain them first.
You could also use this pesto as a pizza sauce (in addition or in place of marinara) – it is an excellent addition. Need a pizza crust? Here you go!
- 16 ounces of gluten free pasta (or pasta of choice) – I used gf spaghetti noodles
- 10 ounces of frozen, chopped broccoli (optional)
- 1 container cherry tomatoes, diced (optional) (can sub diced canned tomatoes – drain first)
- Roughly 1 cup parsley (I used one whole ‘bunch’ from the store)
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- ½ a cup walnuts
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 big pinch of salt
- ½ a cup full fat coconut milk (shake before opening can)
- Black pepper, to taste
- Add water and frozen broccoli (optional) to a large pot, bring to a boil
- Once boiling add the noodles and cook according to package directions
- While noodles are cooking, make the sauce:
- Add the parsley (stem and all), spinach, walnuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt to the food processor or blender (I prefer my food processor for this) and whirl until combined and smooth. You may have to stop and scrape the sides a few times
- Once combined, add the coconut milk to the food processor and process until combined
- Once noodles are done, drain noodles and broccoli, and return them to the pot they were cooking in
- Add the pesto sauce and the diced tomatoes (optional) to the noodles/broccoli
- Stir well, until all of the noodles are covered in sauce. If the mixture is not warm enough, turn the burner back on medium, stirring constantly while it warms.
- Taste, add black pepper if necessary.
- Serve warm, with a side of Summer Sunshine
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge once cooled completely
Am I the only one who’s tolerance of winter has a complete meltdown mid-season? What do you do to combat it?